Category Archives: Science

100 Companies in Japan Make Something Stronger than Steel — Will work together to produce nanocellulose

About 100 companies in Japan will work together to put nanocellulose, made from wood fibers, into practical use as a next-generation material, with one-fifth the weight of steel but about five times the strength.

Companies involved with its development include paper manufacturers, automakers, chemical companies and others.

They aim to utilize the new material for manufacturing auto parts, construction materials, artificial blood vessels and various other purposes.

Because nanocellulose is made mainly from wood chips, it is considered friendly to the environment. Thus, the government plans to support the development as part of its economic growth strategy.

Nanocellulose is made by chemically processing fibers contained in wood. The fibers are dissolved into pieces, each of which is measured on a nanometer scale. One nanometer is one-millionth of a meter and is about one-hundred-thousandths of the thickness of a human hair.

Japan Mobilizes SDF Troops to Fight Bird Flu Outbreak

Self-Defense Forces troops were mobilized Monday to help fight an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.    

Some 200 personnel from the Ground SDF’s eighth division based in the city of Kumamoto helped cull chickens and bury them underground at the request of the prefectural government.   

The move came after the H5 subtype virus was detected Sunday in broilers that died at the farm in the town of Taragi, the first outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in the country in three years.   

A total of about 112,000 chickens are slated to be culled at the farm as well as another farm in the Kumamoto prefecture village of Sagara run by the same farmer.   

The prefectural government on Sunday conducted an investigation into approximately 230 poultry farms in the prefecture breeding more than 100 chickens in total. As a result, no problem was found at them except for the one in question, officials said Monday.

Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory Satellite Launched

Japan’s space agency has successfully launched an H2A rocket carrying a satellite that can survey precisely rainfall on most of the earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the rocket lifted off at 3:37 AM from Tanegashima Space Center, southern Japan.

It flew as planned and released the satellite 16 minutes after launch at the height of 400 kilometers.

The satellite, co-developed by Japan and the US, is aimed at a detailed monitoring of rainfall on the earth using radars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AtpYK2sCoXU

Giant Squid Caught Alive

A giant squid has been captured alive by a fisherman in western Japan.

Tetsuo Okamoto was harvesting turban shells at a depth of 8 meters when he saw the squid moving overhead about 300 meters off Shin-onsen Town in Hyogo Prefecture.
Okamoto tied it to his boat and took it to a port.

The mollusk is 4.13 meters long and estimated to weigh 200 kilograms. It had lost both of its longest tentacles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xEvgfqk2_HE

Giant Squid Found in Fishing Net – Video

A four-meter-long daio ika giant squid has been found inside a fixed net off Sadogashima island, Niigata Prefecture.

Fisherman Shigenori Goto found the squid Wednesday morning. According to Goto, it was swimming in a net for catching buri yellowtails set about 70 meters deep and about 1 kilometer off the nearest port when he hauled it up at about 7 a.m. The squid died after being brought to the surface.

It was taken to the Niigata prefectural government’s fishery and marine research institute in Niigata, where it was discovered to be male. The squid weighed about 150 kilograms.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GN7fwhxTDiA

Fantastic Video of Volcano Creating New Island Off Japan’s Coast

Japan got just a little bit bigger this week, as a volcano created a brand new island about 600 miles (970 kilometers) south of Tokyo.

The island is about 660 feet (200 meters) in diameter, according to the Japanese coast guard. It sits off the coast of Nishinoshima, itself a small, uninhabited island in a group of about 30 islands known as the Bonin Islands, or the Ogasawara chain.

Asked by the media if the new island will soon get a name, Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga replied that officials will first wait to see how long it sticks around, since new islands have a tendency to disappear back below the waves in a short time.

Read the rest of the story: Dramatic Video Shows Volcano Making New Island Off Japan.

Japanese astronaut Wakata releases micro-satellites from ISS

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata has released micro-satellites from the International Space Station.

Wakata used a robotic arm to release the 3 satellites into space at around 12:15 UTC on Tuesday.

The palm-sized devices were delivered to the station by Japan’s unmanned cargo carrier in August.

One of the 3 satellites was jointly developed by Japan and Vietnam. It will take photos of the Earth and will also be used for amateur radio experiments.

IAEA calls for strengthened efforts from Japan to increase radiation exposure awareness

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday the Japanese government should communicate well to the public that the country’s goal to reduce annual individual radiation exposure to 1 millisievert in areas contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis cannot be achieved in a short time.

“The government should strengthen its efforts to explain to the public that an additional individual dose of 1 millisievert per year is a long-term goal,” the team said in a preliminary report released after its weeklong mission on decontamination efforts in Japan, adding such a strategy would allow resources to be reallocated to the recovery of essential infrastructure in disaster-hit areas.

The report also said that Japanese institutions are encouraged to increase efforts to communicate that a dose in the range of 1 to 20 millisieverts per year is “acceptable” and “in line with the international standards.”

Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster that resulted in the release of massive amounts of radioactive substances outside the plant, the Japanese government is aiming to scale down areas where over 20 millisieverts of annual exposure is measured to help evacuees return to their homes.

As for areas with doses of less than 20 millisieverts, the government has said it will seek to bring down the figure to 1 millisievert or below as a long-term goal.

But according to Environment Ministry officials, some people are concerned about returning to areas that have not achieved the long-term goal.

JAXA, Japan’s space agency, sets world record for unmanned balloon

Japan’s space agency says it has set a world record by sending an observation balloon to an altitude of more than 53,000 meters.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said on Friday it released the unmanned balloon earlier in the day from a test site in Hokkaido in northern Japan.

JAXA officials say the balloon ascended at a speed of 250 meters a minute. It reached an altitude of 53,700 meters in 160 minutes.

The helium balloon is 60 meters wide and is made of a film just 3 micrometers thick. The agency says it’s the world’s thinnest balloon.

JAXA officials later destroyed the balloon by remote control. It fell into the ocean 150 kilometers from the test site.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qhlDW6Ngfm4

Why do onions make you cry? – Ask Japan

Let’s face it: The Nobel Prizes aren’t for everyone. That’s why we celebrate the Ig Nobel Prizes, which were handed out Thursday night at Harvard’s Sanders Theater.

The Chemistry Prize investigated the age-old mystery of why onions make people cry. The winning team, from Japan, showed that the plant biochemistry at work involved a previously undiscovered enzyme called lachrymatory-factor synthase. If onions could be engineered without that enzyme, it may be possible for them to retain their flavor and nutritional value without causing eyes to water, they wrote in the journal Nature.

Read the rest of the story: Ig Nobel Prizes.